How to Sleep Better

'Sleep Hygiene' Solutions for Better Sleep

From the WebMD Archives

Continued

All that said, here are some sleep hygiene tips to help you relax, fall asleep, stay asleep, and get better sleep so that you wake up refreshed and alert.

1. Avoid watching TV, eating, and discussing emotional issues in bed. The bed should be used for sleep and sex only. If not, we can associate the bed with other activities and it often becomes difficult to fall asleep.

2. Minimize noise, light, and temperature extremes during sleep with ear plugs, window blinds, or an electric blanket or air conditioner. Even the slightest nighttime noises or luminescent lights can disrupt the quality of your sleep. Try to keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature -- not too hot (above 75 degrees) or too cold (below 54 degrees).

3. Try not to drink fluids after 8 p.m. This may reduce awakenings due to urination.

4. Avoid naps, but if you do nap, make it no more than about 25 minutes about eight hours after you awake. But if you have problems falling asleep, then no naps for you.

5. Do not expose your self to bright light if you need to get up at night. Use a small night-light instead.

6. Nicotine is a stimulant and should be avoided particularly near bedtime and upon night awakenings. Having a smoke before bed, although it may feel relaxing, is actually putting a stimulant into your bloodstream.

7. Caffeine is also a stimulant and is present in coffee (100-200 mg), soda (50-75 mg), tea (50-75 mg), and various over-the-counter medications. Caffeine should be discontinued at least four to six hours before bedtime. If you consume large amounts of caffeine and you cut your self off too quickly, beware; you may get headaches that could keep you awake.

8. Although alcohol is a depressant and may help you fall asleep, the subsequent metabolism that clears it from your body when you are sleeping causes a withdrawal syndrome. This withdrawal causes awakenings and is often associated with nightmares and sweats.

9. A light snack may be sleep-inducing, but a heavy meal too close to bedtime interferes with sleep. Stay away from protein and stick to carbohydrates or dairy products. Milk contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which has been shown in research to help people go to sleep. So milk and cookies or crackers (without chocolate) may be useful and taste good as well.

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